The Dream of the Rood

     Behold!  The best of dreams I shall tell,
     what I dreamt in the midnight,
     after mortal men upon couches dwell.
     It seem to me that I perceived a rare and wondrous tree
5    extending on high a surrounding light
     alit the wood brightly.  All that beacon was
     covered with gold; jewels studded
     lovingly at its Earthen base, while likewise there were five
     upon that shoulder-span.  Behold there the Angel of God,
10   lovely through-out eternity.  There was not an evil criminal
                         on the gallows,
     but it was at He there gazed the Holy Spirits,
     men throughout Earth and all this glorious creation.
     Wondrous was that Victory Tree, and I the sinner guilty
     and badly wounded with stain.  There I observed the glorious
15   adorned with garment that beautifully beamed,
     garnished with gold; with it gems stood
     covering splendidly the Lord's tree.
     But nevertheless through that gold I understood
     the wretched ancient struggle, when it first began
20   bleeding on the right side.  I was with sorrow disturbed,
     frightened for this stunning vision.  Saw I that brilliant
     then change garment and color: sometimes with moisture soaked,
     drenched in flowing blood, sometimes with treasure still
     But nevertheless I there lay a long time I took
25   sorrowfully gazing at the Saviours's tree,
     until then I dreamt that it spoke;
     beginning with these words the tree did decree:
     "A long time ago -- yet still I remember--
     that I was cut down from the edge of the timber,
30   and removed from my roots.  Powerful fiends there held me off,
     for a spectacle to make, command me a criminal to aloft.
     I on their shoulders these men bore up the top of a hill to
     fastened there amid enemies aplenty.  Then I saw the Lord of
     hasten with great zeal that he would on me climb.
35   There I did not dare to break God's word
     and bend down or break, though I felt the tremble
     of the Earthen surface.  I might have been able
     upon those fiends to fall, yet I stood stable.
     "Then the young hero did disrobe -- that was God Almighty--,
40   strong and resolute; on the wretched gallows he did ascend,
     bold and courageous as many observed for mankind's past he
                         would amend.
     Tremble did I as the hero embraced me; but yet I dared not
     and fall to the Earth's surface, therefore I stood firm.
     A cross I became; lifted up with the mighty King,
45   the Heavenly Master; but yet I dared not bend.
     With dark nails they pierced me: on me the scars are visible,
     the open and malicious wounds.  For him I dared not, so no one
                         did I injure.
     Mocked they us both together.  I was all with blood sodden
     from the side of the Hero after his spirit was ceded.
50   Much ridicule on that hill did I experience
     with this cruel event: The God of Hosts
     hideously stretched out.  Darkness had now
     covered with clouds the Lord's corpse,
     and its shining radiance; A darkness went forth,
55   black under the clouds.  Weep all creation,
     lament the King's fall: Christ was on the Cross.
     "But then there hastened many from afar
     to that Prince: I beheld it all.
     I was with sorrow troubled, so bowed I did to the hands of
60   with great humility.  They then took the almighty God,
     and removed him from that bitter punishment.  Left me then
                         those warriors
     sprinkled with blood; all badly wounded with spears.
     They laid him down weary of limb, and at his head they stood;
     gazing there at Heaven's Lord, as He there rested,
65   exhausted from his bitter struggle.  A sepulcher they began to
     before the eyes of His tormenters, carved out of the brightest
                         of stone,
     there the Victorious Lord was placed; then they began a
                         sorrowful dirge,
     as evening time came.  Afterwards they went
     wearily from the glorious Prince; there he rested alone.
70   Even so there we wept a good while
     standing affixed, after which departed
     the warrior.  His corpse grew cold,
     that lovely body.  Then men chopped us down
     to the Earth; that was such a terrible event!
75   They buried us in a deep pit; but there the Lord's servants,
     discovered us, 
     and girded me with gold and silver.
     "Now you may have heard, my dear beloved man,
     of the deeds of evil men I have experienced,
80   sore and grievous they are.  But now is the time
     that I be revered far and wide
     by men throughout the Earth and all this glorious creation,
     should pray to this beacon.  On me the Son of God
     did suffer; for that I gloriously now
85   tower under heaven, that I might heal
     each and everyone that shows awe of me.
     Of old I was once the most bitter of tortures,
     hated by people, until I showed him life's path
     properly opened, before mortal man.
90   Behold, me the honored glorious lord
     above all the trees of the forest, the Guardian of Heaven,
     just as His mother, Mary herself,
     almighty God all men
     honor above all of womankind.
95   Now I do command, my dear beloved one,
     that you this vision tell to man:
     reveal the word that it is this glorious tree,
     on which almighty God did suffer
     for mankind's many sins
100  and Adam's misdeeds of old.
     Death he there tasted; yet the Lord arose again
     with his great power to help man.
     He then to Heaven ascended.  To here again
     on this Middle Earth shall come to mankind
105  on Doomsday the Lord himself,
     almighty God, and with his Angels,
     that we will adjudge, using that power of judgment,
     upon each individual as to their past lives here
     in this fleeting life to prepare.
110  Nor may there any be not afraid
     for the words that the Lord may say:
     He shall ask before the multitude where is that man,
     who in the Lord's name would take death's
     bitter taste, just as He did before on the tree.
115  But they then shall be afraid and few will imagine
     what to Christ they can begin to say.
     Of no benefit then for anyone to be very frightened
     if Him in their breast they carry this select of beacons,
     and by virtue of the Cross shall come to the Kingdom
120  of Earth each and every soul,
     to with the Lord desire to dwell."
     Prayed I then to the tree in joyful spirit,
     with great zeal, and then there I was alone
     in small company.  It was by my heart
125  urging on forward, the many experiences
     do I long for.  It is now my life's joyous hope
     that I the Victory Tree may be allowed to seek
     and moreover that all men,
     eagerly honor it thus: it is my desire that
130  I grow great in spirit and that my hope of protection is
     proper to the Cross.  Although I do not have many powerful
     friends in this world, for they have left from here
     and departed the worldly joys, and sought the wondrous King,
     who lives now in Heaven with the Heavenly Father,
135  where they dwell in glory, so I look forward
     each day to the time when my Lord's Cross,
     which here on Earth I had earlier beheld,
     will from this fleeting life carry me off
     and bring me then there with great bliss,
140  the heavenly dream, there with the Lord's people
     to be with always, there in perpetual bliss,
     and I then shall live there ever after and allowed to
     dwell in glory, with the Saints
     and in joyful bliss.  I shall be the Lord's friend,
145  who here on Earth did suffer once
     on that gallows tree for man's sins:
     He redeemed us and gave us life,
     and a heavenly home.  Hope has been renewed
     with blessings and with bliss for those who endured the fire;
150  the Son was victorious on that journey,
     powerful and successful, that he left with a large
     army of souls to God's kingdom,
     the Ruler almighty, to angelic bliss
     he brought all the souls and came to Heaven
155  to dwell in glory, and that the Lord came,
     the almighty God, there to his homeland went.  
Translated by Douglas B. Killings. Copyright 1991, 1996 by Douglas B. Killings.